The Los Angeles Film Festival 2007 – Days 5 and 6
If this enchanting documentary on the arcade geeks of the 80s gets released in the UK and you’ve ever had an interest in Space Invaders, Centipede, Pacman, Qbert and Asteroids – you have got to check it out.
Tracing the stories of the top arcade scorers in the US, it’s filled with obsessed gamers from the 80s with names like Mister Awesome and Todzilla – except now they’ve all grown up and are having to battle hairloss and paunches.
“I had a girlfriend one time,” muses one of the players. “Playing for 41 hours straight was brutal,” adds another. “Mr Spock was one of my idols,” chimes a third. “My record on Star Wars is 49-and-a-half hours,” reveals another.
Day Six: The Town That Was [UK release date: TBC]
Another visually-stunning documentary – this time about the town of Centralia in Pennsylvania, which has had a fire burning underneath it for the past 40 years.
In 1962, a fire was lit to distinguish a rubbish pit – but it ignited coal beneath the city. By the 1980s, giant plumes of smoke and lethal carbon monoxide gases billowed from cracks in the ground. The local highway collapsed and the fire raged, but much of the community still lived there. When a young lad nearly died after falling into a smoldering mine subsidence in his family’s front garden, the government was forced into action – but decided to relocate the residents and leave the fire burning. The blaze continues to rage and when this documentary was filmed, 11 die-hards remained in their homes. Today, only eight remain.
Director Chris Perkel explains: “We did a little research and upon discovering that there were a handful of residents who refuse to leave despite the obvious dangers, we were immediately intrigued. When we discovered John – a young man in his 30s who not only chooses to stay in a virtual town with no-one his own age, but actually goes to great lengths to preserve the illusion of a community by mowing empty plots of land where houses used to be, painting park benches and putting up Christmas lights for no-one to see. We knew we had a story.”
And although it’s a tad too long, it’s rivetting.
Film: Joshua [UK release date: TBC]The film festival’s Centrepiece Premiere was George Ratliff’s sinister tale of a creepy kid who slowly tries to break up his family in the psycological thriller Joshua.
“Being a parent is the scariest thing you can do,” explains Ratliff. “But when my first son was born he immediately had a personality and character, which unnerved me. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be scary if you knew you had a bad kid from the start?’ That’s where the premise of this movie came from.”
Punctuated with moments of black comedy, it’s a lighter version of The Omen – but not quite as good.
Written by Adam Tanswell
Friday, 29 June 2007